Congratulations! Your sweet little one is here!
While the first weeks after your baby is born are a blissful honeymoon of blossoming love and getting to know each other, like pregnancy and childbirth, this period has its own set of challenges for both mom and baby. As if pregnancy and birth didn’t change your body enough over nine months, now you have major remodeling going on as your body returns to a new normal in a relatively few short weeks! Add to that sleepless nights, learning to breastfeed, and massive hormone swings and you can see why this time can be difficult for many moms.
I had planned on covering all this in one post, but it got a little too long so I divided it up. This post will cover healing and breastfeeding. Postpartum Emotions and what essential oils can help you manage ended up being such a big and important topic that I devoted one whole blog post to that issue. Check out that post Here. And you can read about Taking Care of your Newborn with Essential Oils here.
The first few days after birth, your biggest tasks are healing from the birth process and establishing breastfeeding.
Frankincense, Lavender, Helichrysum, and Geranium all help with pain and promote healing. Helichrysum helps slow bleeding too. Clary sage helps to re-tone the area and relieve pain and cramping. For soothing and healing of perineal tissues after birth, make a solution of water, witch hazel and a combination of essential oils (5-10 total drops of oil per cup of solution). You can also add some aloe vera for added soothing. Apply this solution with a spray bottle each time you use the bathroom. It is also super nice to use on your sanitary pads.
Mix twenty drops each of Frankincense and Lavender in 2 quarts of water. Divide between about 10-12 super maxi pads, stack between sheets of foil and freeze for soothing and healing of pain and inflammation immediately after birth. You can also add Helichrysum for additional healing, especially if postpartum bleeding is an issue.
Some moms experience itching with the healing process which may be just a normal part of the healing or a sympton of yeast overgrowth. If you are prone to yeast or experiencing itching,
mix 15-20 drops Melaleuca in a spray bottle and apply after urinating.
A couple drops Frankincense, Helichrysum, Myrrh and Lavender on the incision every few hours can be particularly helpful with healing the incision. An abdominal binder is really comforting for some moms, but if you don’t use one, make sure to brace your incision with a pillow when coughing, sneezing, laughing, or getting up, until it becomes less tender.
This Neuropathy blend from Patti’s place is great if you experience numbness or nerve pain surrounding the incision.
10 drops each
Balance EO Blend, Birch EO,Basil EO, Wintergreen EO, Marjoram EO, Cypress EO, Lavender EO
Top off with FCO in small roller bottle and apply as needed to affected areas.
Some women experience intense itching with an epidural as it wears off. Myrrh and Geranium can help aleviate the itching and can help eliminate the medications from your system so you are can get up and walk sooner.
AFTER BIRTH BLEEDING
Heavy bleeding is normal for the first 24 hours after birth, but you should never be soaking more than one pad per hour. If you are, check in with your healthcare provider. Bleeding should naturally decrease day by day, but can linger for several weeks. A blend of Clary Sage, Helichrysum, and Ylang Ylang will tone things back up quickly and minimize bleeding. Mix the oils with a carrier oil and place on lower abdomen (over uterus) or on ankle reflex points to tone the uterus.
Cramping after birth is normal as the uterus contracts to minimize blood loss and return to its normal size. This is more common with second and subsequent babies, but sometimes first time moms feel it too, and it can be especially intense during breastfeeding. Lavender and White fir can provide relief from these after-pains. Dilute with a carrier oil and massage into the abdomen, or apply a warm, wet washcloth with a few drops of Lavender and White fir on it to the abdomen. A heating pad can also help.
Sore tired muscles are common after the work of giving birth. Marjoram is especially good for this.
DIFFICULTY URINATING AFTER LABOR
A few drops of Peppermint EO in the toilet before trying to pee will help encourage the urge and relax the pelvic floor so you can pee. You can also try running the faucet or try peeing in the shower. This works really well for some moms. The bladder and urethra can become very irritated from childbirth and sometimes can lead to further discomfort down the line. If you are having discomfort with urination or in between urinating, use Lemongrass, Melaleuca, Frankincense, Oregano and Helichrisum 2 drops of each in 1 tbsp carrier oil. Rub oil on very lower abdomen/pubic region (avoiding mucous membranes) every time you urinate or every two hours, whichever is more often. Place an ice pack on the area, drink a lot of water and unsweetened cranberry juice. If your symptoms last longer than 2 days following this protocol contact your healthcare professional.
Your poor bottom can get very swollen from pushing and hemorrhoids can be a problem for many women. 1-2 drops of each Geranium, Clary Sage, Helichrysum Essential oils diluted with a carrier oil and applied each time you use the restroom or in a sitz bath will help heal the hemorrhoids and perineum.
After birth as your uterus shrinks and everything else shifts around inside, constipation and gas are common. Massaging DigestZen and Fennel over your belly will help relieve gas pains and to get things moving again!
HORMONES/HOT FLASHES/SWEATING/MOOD SWINGS
ClaryCalm, applied morning and night on the back of your neck and bottoms of your feet will help with the symptoms of hormonal fluctuations.
Clary Sage is often used to start production. Apply to the insides of ankles or bottom of feet. Fennel and Basil are used to increase milk production. Swallow two drops of Fennel oil in a teaspoon of honey every two hours. Follow with a glass of water. Inhale Joyful Blend (Elevation).
Be careful with Peppermint and avoid Jasmine altogether. These essential oils may decrease or stop milk production.
Some women will experience extreme fullness and soreness as their milk comes in, usually on the third or fourth day. This is known as engorgement and usually lasts a few days as your milk supply adjusts and regulates to your baby’s needs. In the meantime, there are some measures you can take to help alleviate the discomfort. Make sure you are prepared in advance with well fitting supportive nursing bras. Nurse often. Massage 2 drops Birch, 5 drops Lavender, 5 drops Roman Chamomile, and 1 drop of Cypress in 2 tsp. carrier oil into the breasts several times a day after nursing. Boil whole cabbage leafs and refrigerate. Place one leaf in each bra cup in between feeding. Alternate hot and cold compresses. If you notice a lump in your breast, massage toward the nipple and continue to nurse often. You might want to add Melaleuca to your massage blend for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. If you develop redness, fever, malaise, or other signs of infection, consult your healthcare provider.
Dilute 1 drop each Helichrysum and Lavender with a tsp of carrier oil and gently rub on nipples after every nursing session, or PaleoMama has a wonderful recipe for All-Purpose Salve that you can use on your nipples (and many other things). Apply after each nursing session so you don’t have to worry about washing it off for the next nursing session.
Make sure your baby is latching deeply and alternate sides every 10-15 minutes until your nipples adjust to your baby’s demands. If nipples are cracked or bleeding, consult with your healthcare provider.
Thanks to the following blogs for ideas and recipes for postpartum healing.